UFCW 1518 joins the shíshálh Nation in condemning acts of vandalism that recently occurred on the Sunshine Coast. On July 7, an unknown person hung a banner threatening to cut down two totem poles at Pender Harbour School. A highway sign containing shíshálh language was also vandalized.
The Pender Harbour school and the sign both stand on the unceded territory of the shíshálh people.
“This overtly racist act shows that we still have a lot of work to do in decolonizing our province, fighting systemic racism, and building towards reconciliation,” said UFCW 1518 President Kim Novak. “As a union, we will continue to stand up for Indigenous communities and work to dismantle racism in our province and elsewhere.”
UFCW 1518 is committed to increasing Indigenous representation in our union, advocating for our members of Indigenous descent, and fighting the systemic racism that they encounter in the workplace and elsewhere. Our efforts to decolonize the union and combat racism are a work in progress and include speaking out against anti-black and anti-Indigenous police violence, supporting the efforts of Black Lives Matter and Indigenous organizations, promoting National Indigenous Peoples Day and Indigenous History Month, and supporting the work of the UFCW National Indigenous Sub-Committee.
Here is the full statement from the shíshálh Nation:
shíshálh Nation Rejects and Condemns Racist Vandalism and Applauds Community Outpouring of Support for Reconciliation on the Sunshine Coast
Sechelt, BC – On July 7 there were two acts of racist anti-Indigenous vandalism on the Sunshine Coast. A large banner was hung across two totem poles at the Pender Harbour School that read “IF U TOUCH George/Stanley/John A UR Totem’s will start Falling” (see photo below). As well, the word “conquered” was painted on a highway sign containing shíshálh language. The RCMP have been contacted and are investigating.
“Our Nation members are saddened and upset by these most recent acts of racism,” said hiwus (Chief) Warren Paull. “Of course, we are not surprised. Racism exists here on the Sunshine Coast, as it does elsewhere. And as always, racism will be confronted for what it is – as an expression of ignorance and hate that must be completely rejected in all forms.”
Since news of these racist incidents began circulating, shíshálh Nation has received an outpouring of support from neighbours, residents, and others across British Columbia. “This is the most heartening thing,” said Councillor Selina August. “While we woke up today to hurtful news of racist incidents, we are also met with the love, support, and generosity of British Columbians from all walks of life who wish to see true reconciliation become the reality across this country. So our message today is one of thanks, to all those countless British Columbians who see racism for what it is, call it out, and are ready to do the on-going work of improving our communities, province, country, and world.”
Nicholas Simons, MLA for Powell River – Sunshine Coast adds: ” I join the shíshálh Nation in condemning these hurtful, racist incidents. There is no excuse for such hateful thoughts, and no place for words, or actions like this on the Sunshine Coast or anywhere. Residents of the Sunshine Coast reject racism and overwhelmingly support the work that individuals, communities, and British Columbians are doing to build greater understanding, inclusiveness, and equality—including the essential work of reconciliation.”